Monday, August 4, 2008

Wild Strawberries

There are some movies that you hear about, read about, find references about in different sources but haven’t had a chance to watch. “Wild Strawberries“, Ingmar Bergman’s movie of 1957, was one of those movies for me. It came in the mail a few months ago but I couldn’t find a stretch of uninterrupted time to watch it until today. Besides time, one has to be in a right set of mind - it is Bergman after all, plus the movie is in Swedish with English subtitles, so concentration and alertness are required.

Its plot is quite simple – the 78 years old professor Isak Borg travels by car from Stockholm to Lund to receive an honorary degree. During the course of his journey he encounters a number of people, get involved in a number of accidents, and has a number of experiences, which lead him to the spiritual release by the end of the movie.

I like how reality coexists with dreams, nightmares, flashbacks and fantasies there. Almost at the beginning the viewer is invited into a nightmare of the main character. Professor Borg is lost on the empty streets. He tired to find his way but all the streets look the same. He tries to see the time but the face of both, his watch and the street clock, are blind. He sees a person standing near the building. He taps him on a shoulder and the person falls, deflating like a balloon. A hearse comes around the corner. It bumps into the lamppost causing the coffin to slide onto the street, its lid half opened. Professor Borg tries to see who is it in the coffin and discovers his own face starring back at him.

A scene lasts about 4 minutes but lay out the main themes of the movie – the fear of dying, loneliness, loss of the way.

It isn’t a dark movie but certainly the one that demands the viewer's attention. One has to follow the intricate diving in and out of reality in order not to loose his footing in this movie. And then there are symbols that keep reappearing in different scenes, deepening the meaning or offering a completely new one.

One symbol touched me the most – wild strawberries. In the movie wild strawberries became the threshold to the childhood memories, the symbol of carefree summers, the joy of life. During this summer I find myself revisiting my childhood in almost the same manner. In my case it is blueberries instead of wild strawberries. They grow at the lava fields and recently while showing the kids how to thread them on the grass I was flooded with mental images of my childhood, all those summer days we used to run around at the country side.

I didn’t mention that it is black and white movie. I find it very fitting – it emphasizes the old age and also the black and white perspective on life, which often occurs when a person so set in his/her ways that it causes emotional deafness.


Anonymous said...

Ah, the famous "Smultronstället" ... I've wanted to see it for years (being a big fan of Sven Nykvist) ... but one can't just pop into Blockbuster for such things. How came you by it?

C&C said...

It was on my wish list, and my husband got it from Amazon. They even have his "Smiles of a Summer Night", which is less known than his other work.